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San Francisco 49ers

San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Bulls And The San Francisco 49ers: A Case Study

San Jose SharksI asked Pat Curcio, head coach and president of the San Francisco Bulls, why the San Jose Sharks stick with certain players. One in particular is not very big, doesn’t score a lot of goals but gets a decent amount of ice time. Coach Curcio said it’s because ‘he works hard’. That’s it.

The San Francisco 49ers just finished their season on what can be argued was either a high point or a low point. No one expected the NFC Championship Game to be played at Candlestick Park, so even though they lost you can pick your outcome – glass half empty or glass half full. The question is how did a team who couldn’t put together a winning record over the past 8 years make it that far in the playoffs, and how did they do it with basically the same players but a new head coach?

When I asked Coach Curcio who the most talented teams in the NHL were he mentioned a few teams in the East. If the Sharks aren’t the most talented team why are they consistent playoff contenders – the last two Western Conference finals not withstanding? He said talent alone doesn’t win.

‘Talent alone doesn’t win’ certainly applies to the 49ers. The 49ers are definitely a talented team but I don’t think anyone is going to accuse them of being the most talented team in the NFL. Therefore one conclusion is that the 49ers proved to be one of the top 4 teams in the NFL because of their hard work and team effort.

Here we sit at the NHL All-Star break and the Sharks sit at 13th overall against all teams. They sit first in the weakest division in hockey. Dropping out of first place in the division drops you to 7th in the West. The team is 17th on the power play, 28th on the penalty kill, and 13th in scoring. In the one category where ‘last is best’, the Sharks have played the fewest games in the NHL (47) and have, on average, 3 games ‘in hand’ against the top 8 of the teams in the Western Conference.

In other words, the team is average.

If you watch the team on any regular basis can you honestly say everyone on the team is working hard and the team as a whole is putting forth that great team effort? Is this a team that could achieve more with more work and more effort? If not then we’re in trouble, because I don’t think what we have can go deep in the playoffs – the team feels ‘shallow’ to me. I don’t know if we could outwork another top 8 team over a 7-game series.

The Sharks have key injuries. One could argue that not all of their summertime acquisitions are working out as hoped. But what happened to General Manager Doug Wilson’s statement that he wouldn’t wait until this late in the season to make moves if the team wasn’t performing up to par? Is the fact that we’re division leader despite our average performance good enough to keep moving forward with what we have? Have we ‘maxed out all our credit cards’ and just can’t afford to trade away anymore high draft picks and/or prospects to shore up the team? Have we already traded away too much?

If the playoffs are ‘the grind’ then the Sharks are about to embark on ‘the grind before the grind’. During the last 6 weeks of the season (starting mid-February) the Sharks will only have a two-day break only twice. The rest of the time it’s either every-other night or back-to-back games.

And if you’re interested in asking Coach Curcio your own questions the San Francisco Bulls are running another ‘night out with the coach’ contest. Just one favor, if you win tell him I sent you!

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